Speed Limits Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left Mark C. Taylor

Publication date:
27 Oct 2015
Yale University Press
408 pages: 227 x 146mm
24 b-w illus.
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A leading thinker asks why “faster” is synonymous with “better” in our hurried world and suggests how to take control of our runaway lives

We live in an ever-accelerating world: faster computers, markets, food, fashion, product cycles, minds, bodies, kids, lives.  When did everything start moving so fast? Why does speed seem so inevitable?  Is faster always better?

Drawing together developments in religion, philosophy, art, technology, fashion, and finance, Mark C. Taylor presents an original and rich account of a great paradox of our times: how the very forces and technologies that were supposed to free us by saving time and labor now trap us in a race we can never win. The faster we go, the less time we have, and the more we try to catch up, the farther behind we fall.  Connecting our speed-obsession with today’s global capitalism, he composes a grand narrative showing how commitments to economic growth and extreme competition, combined with accelerating technological innovation, have brought us close to disaster.  Psychologically, environmentally, economically, and culturally, speed is taking a profound toll on our lives.

By showing how the phenomenon of speed has emerged, Taylor offers us a chance to see our pace of life as the product of specific ideas, practices, and policies.  It’s not inevitable or irreversible.  He courageously and movingly invites us to imagine how we might patiently work towards a more deliberative life and sustainable world.

Mark C. Taylor is professor and chair, Department of Religion, Columbia University. He lives in Williamstown, MA and New York, NY.


“Taylor's observant thought process inspires and promotes the kind of dramatic cultural change necessary to unplug and reflect.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Why is the pedal pushed to the metal in virtually every area of our lives? The reasons--historical, theological, technological, financial--are many, and no one has untangled them better than Mark Taylor in this remarkable book, his most important work to date.”—Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography

“With panache and flashes of brilliance, Taylor, a Columbia University religion professor and cultural critic, offers a philosophically astute analysis of how time works in our era: more is being squeezed into smaller and smaller bits of time, and everyone feels that they have less of it. . . . There is, appropriately, no quick fix, but Taylor provides plenty of provocative, learned ideas.” —Publishers Weekly

"Speed Limits is an insightful and provocative book that deserves the widest possible readership. But with one cautionary note: dear readers, please don’t rush through it."—Howard Segal, THES